Written by: Tre LyDay – Staff Writing Intern (@trelyday03)
The New York Yankees are in a precarious situation. They traded away undoubtedly their best bullpen arms, and Carlos Beltran for high end prospects to start a youth movement within the franchise. Their farm system went from middle of the pack to top three in a matter of a week. Not too shabby for a franchise that hasn’t always put that much emphasis on the talent in their farm system. Even with all those trades the Yankees are only 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, and after the debuts of Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge, it’s allowed the Yankees to just hang around, and stay in the picture.
The Yankees since the trade deadline on August 1st are 8-5, and have managed to hold their heads above water when the rest of the world thought they were going to just phone it in the rest of the season. What’s been a wild card for this team is the pitching of Michael Pineda. Although it’s been very up and down; the ups are very good. The entire month of june he didn’t have a start in which he gave up more than three runs. The month of July was the exact opposite. He had three starts in which he gave up five runs. So if the trend continues then the month of August should be a good month for him. So far not bad. In his most recent start he went six innings only giving up two runs en route to a no decision against Boston. This month crucial for the Yankees, and they need Pineda to be on top of his game.
After the trade of Carlos Beltran, and the Yankees releasing of Alex Rodriguez, you had to imagine that it would open the door for some of their prospects. On Saturday both Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge were called up, and did they have a debut to remember. Both guys went deep in their first career plate appearances. It’s the first time a pair of rookies making their debut went back-to-back in their first career plate appearances. The Yankees have been dependent on the long ball for a long time, and Judge is a highly coveted power hitter who hits Giancarlo Stanton type home runs. Austin on the other hand has power to all fields as well, but the Yankees like him because he’s versatile. He’s primarily a first baseman, but can also play the corner outfield, which could provide useful should Brett Gardner be sidelined for an extended period of time.
As I mentioned before the Yankees are only 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot so they are definitely within striking distance, and to answer the question can they still make it to the playoffs I would say yes. Even with the youth movement the franchise has going, they’re still a team full of veterans, and most of them have won a World Series. Those same veterans have been in the same spot plenty of times before, and with the help of their new call ups, they could definitely make a push for that final Wild Card spot.
The Yankees have a west coast swing starting in LA before they start their divisional trip in the month of September. The only non-divisional series they have is against the Royals at the end of August, and then they get the Dodgers at home in the middle of September. The fortunate thing for the Yankees is that they’re chasing everyone in the division. The Red Sox and Orioles currently own the two Wild Card spots, and the Yankees have three series against the Orioles, and two series against the Red Sox remaining which is a prime opportunity for them to gain some ground.
The Yankees playoff chances hinge on their starting pitching, and their new call ups. Coming out of the break the Yankees starting rotation owned the lowest ERA for a couple of weeks. They need that kind of production from the rotation the rest of the way. It’ll be a little difficult especially after Nathan Eovaldi just went on the 15-day DL with an elbow problem. It can be done though with Tanaka, and if Pineda pitches up to par. If Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin can live up to their projections, along with the rest of the veterans then they have a fighting chance.